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WSJ: Informant Tipped Off FBI About Mar-a-Lago Documents; Trump Declines to Answer Questions in New York Probe; Inflation is Cooling; Key Report Shows U.S. Inflation Grew at Slower Rate in July; Europe Facing More Crippling Heat, Worsening Drought; Texas Governor Defends Busing Migrants to Sanctuary Cities. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired August 11, 2022 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and all around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. Just ahead --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone familiar with the stored documents told investigators that there may still be more classified information at Mar-a-Lago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A nice positive news in this inflation report, the stock market really soared today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The White House took it as a good sign that it was moving in the right direction.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the man the FBI alleges tried to hire an assassin to kill former U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The deal with the growing threat that Iran poses and not try to appease them.

ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster.

FOSTER: It's Thursday, August 11, 9:00 a.m. here in London, 4:00 a.m. in Palm Beach, Florida. Where we're learning new details about what prompted the FBI to search Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence. The "Wall Street journal" reporting investigators were given an insider tip alerting them to more classified documents inside former President Trump's Florida home. CNN's Evan Perez reports now from Washington.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Someone came forward in recent weeks to tell the FBI that there were likely more classified documents being stored at former President Donald Trump's Palm Beach club according to the "Wall Street journal." The "Journal" says that that's what prompted the search this week at Mar-a-Lago. CNN has not confirmed the "Journal's" report. But we've previously reported that there were months of discussions between the Trump lawyers and Justice Department prosecutors and that in June, justice and FBI officials paid a visit to Mar-a-Lago to discuss possible classified documents that were still being stored there despite the government's view that they belong at the National Archives.

Meanwhile inside the Justice Department, there is frustration that the department has so far said nothing about the search. Trump and his allies have portrayed it as a siege and suggested without providing any proof that the FBI may have planted evidence. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said that the department doesn't comment on ongoing investigations, in part to protect the rights of people that are under investigation, and who haven't been charged. And it's also part of a strategy to not tipoff possible targets of those investigations. It's not uncommon however, for the FBI to issue statements acknowledging a search when it is already public. And in this case, so far Trump is the only one talking about the FBI search.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: The Justice Department is facing pressure from within to provide a public statement about their unprecedented search. On Wednesday reporters asked the Trump appointed FBI Director Christopher Wray to comment.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Well, as I'm sure that you can appreciate, that is not something that I can talk about so I'd refer you to the department.


FOSTER: Well, now there are growing questions about what was found during the search and why Trump wanted to keep it hidden close to him.

Here's what we know. FBI agents searched Trump's personal headquarters and his offices back in June. They looked at a basement area where boxes of documents were stored. Agents asked Trump to further secure that area which we're told was done with a padlock. One former Trump staffer says the tip to the FBI was definitely an insider.


STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I know how Mar-a-Lago is laid out, so it would have to be somebody very close to him to know not only what was brought but where it is being stored. And knowing how paranoid the president was while we were in the White House, I can't imagine what things are like now. And again, he's got a very, very small circle around him. I don't believe even the staff of Mar-a-Lago would be involved in this.


FOSTER: In the U.S. any informant or source goes through a process to make sure that they are telling the truth. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe says the bureau did its part to make sure it had legitimate information before going to a judge to get a warrant.


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: You can only imagine the level of specificity and the level of confidence in the information that the bureau and the Department of Justice must have had before they took that affidavit to a federal judge to even consider it.


And in this case, you would absolutely vet any individuals who are bringing information to the bureau along those lines. You would absolutely have to vet that information and you would have to let the judge know exactly what you knew about this source and what their motivations might be and where it might be coming from. There's all kinds of ways that a source could confirm the veracity of what they are telling you. They could maybe have provided photographs of information or specific information that could not have been, you know, essentially presented by anybody else who was outside the situation.

So, we can only imagine that there was a high degree of vetting and confirmation in what they presented to the judge. Because as we know, the judge read that affidavit and signed the search warrant indicating that he found it credible that there was probable cause to believe that there was evidence of a crime in that premises.


FOSTER: Meanwhile Donald Trump and his family are facing a major legal risk in New York. The state's Attorney General is investigating the Trump Organization's finances and a decision on an enforcement action may come soon. On Wednesday, the former president showed up to answer questions in the civil case. CNN's Sara Murray reports on how it went.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Donald Trump wrapping up his appearance after nearly six hours at a New York deposition where he pleaded the Fifth, which the former president once said was a move for mobsters.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The mob takes the Fifth. If you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?

MURRAY (voice-over): Trump changed his tune in a deposition led by Democrat New York Attorney General Letitia James' office. Part of a three-year civil probe into whether the Trump organization misled lenders, insurers and tax authorities by providing false financial statements.

D. TRUMP: Well, for years they've been going after my company.

MURRAY (voice-over): I once asked if you're innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment, Trump said in a statement. Now I know the answer to that question. He claimed everyone in his orbit was a target. Adding if there was any question in my mind, the raid of my home, Mar-a-Lago, on Monday by the FBI just two days prior to this deposition wiped out any uncertainty. I have absolutely no choice.

The deposition coming just days after Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was searched. A source told CNN authorities came to suspect Trump's team was not being truthful and may have been withholding sensitive documents that he allegedly took with him when he left the White House.

ERIC TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S SON: My father has worked so collaboratively with them for months. All of the sudden, on no notice, they send, you know, 20 cars and 30 agents?

MURRAY (voice-over): The perilous week highlighting Trump's mountain of legal troubles.

D. TRUMP: They want to put me in jail.

MURRAY (voice-over): A constant frustration for Trump as he eyes another presidential run.

D. TRUMP: The outrageous civil and criminal harassment in New York and Atlanta of a person known as Donald Trump. Have you ever heard of him?

D. TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes.

MURRAY (voice-over): In Georgia, Trump faces an investigation into whether his efforts to overturn the 2020 election there were criminal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going look at everything until that investigation is complete.

MURRAY: And federal investigators are probing efforts to block the transfer of power in 2020, including Trump's attempts to try to stop the election certification and seat fake electors.

MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: No person is above the law in this country. Nothing stops us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even a former president?

GARLAND: No -- I don't how to -- maybe I'll say that again. No person is above the law in this country. I can't say it any more clearly than that.

MURRAY: Now we're also learning that when Wednesday's deposition got underway, one of Donald Trump's attorneys said that he very badly wanted to testify because he was going to listen to the advice of his attorneys and he was not going to do so. As Trump sat there for hours while he was pleading the Fifth, he just said repeatedly same answer to the questions that he was pelted with.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: Donald Trump has a long history of saying only mobsters and

guilty people invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self- incrimination. CNN spoke with former Trump attorney Michael Cohen about the New York civil case.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Yes, it's one of the first times I'm going to agree with him in a long time, right. Only gangsters, mobsters and guilty people take the Fifth. He always cries the victim when he knows he's going to lose. The problem for Donald and whoever it is that provided him the information, as you are well aware, pleading the Fifth does nothing for you in a civil matter. This is not a criminal matter where you could take the Fifth and you cannot make an inference that taking the Fifth sort of puts you in the guilty position. In a civil matter it is exactly that, they now have the ability -- which is what the Attorney General wanted anyway. She has now the ability to go ahead and to presume that by not answering the questions that he is guilty of it. That's just how it works in a civil matter.



FOSTER: And we'll continue to follow this developing story and bring you the very latest as we learn new details.

We're keeping an eye on U.S. stock futures as well with just hours until the opening bell on Wall Street. On Wednesday stocks soared after a key report showed a slowdown in U.S. inflation. The S&P 500 hit its highest level in three months.

In the coming hours another new report will give us more insight into the state of the U.S. economy. The Producer Price Index, a measure of U.S. wholesale and business prices is set to be released. Last month those prices surged. On Wednesday data showed consumer prices held steady in July on a month to month basis. Year over year they increased 8.5 percent but that's a slower pace than the 9.1 percent increase that we had in June. And when it comes to wages, the average hourly earnings for employees increased half a percent from June to July, but wages are not keeping pace with the cost of feeding a family.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says prices for groceries -- for the groceries that Americans buy to eat at home have soared by more than 13 percent in the past year. Some of the standard items are the most sticker shock including eggs which are up a staggering 38 percent, flour, chicken and milk are all seeing double digit spikes. And ground beef, fruit and vegetables are now more than 9 percent more expensive. There are a number of reasons why it is happening. A deadly avian flu, severe drought and the war in Ukraine have all driven up those food prices.

There's some relief for drivers in the U.S. meanwhile. Average gasoline prices have finally dropped below $4 for a gallon of regular. That's according to the American Automobile Association. A month ago, a gallon cost nearly $4.17.

U.S. President Biden welcomed the news of cooling inflation and said the latest data shows the efforts to tackle rising prices are working. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports from the White House.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, for a White House that has been on defense for months over inflation, it was welcome news at the White House when they got the July numbers showing that inflation had not really budged there. Of course, prices are still incredibly high as they'd skyrocketed over the last year. But the White House took it as a good sign that it was moving in the right direction, not time yet to declare a victory lap. Though President Biden did go out of his way to say that he did believe that it was a positive indication of where inflation is headed.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It underscores the kind of economy we've been building. We're seeing a stronger labor market where jobs are booming and Americans are working and we're seeing some signs that inflation may be beginning to moderate. That's what happens when you build an economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

COLLINS: President Biden also taking that moment to urge Congress to pass the Inflation Reduction Act, of course that was once known as the "Build Back Better" bill. It looks a lot different a year later. A few trillion dollars less in spending, that is something that Senator Schumer and Senator Manchin negotiated and it ended up being the deal now known as the Inflation Reduction Act. Because, yes, while this report is good news for the White House, they still know inflation is a number one concern for voters. It is something that has been hurting President Biden's poll numbers and something that Democrats fear could hurt them in November. So, they are going to continue touting it and hoping that it goes in the right direction. And as President Biden says, continues to moderate.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.


FOSTER: Just ahead, U.S. cities coping with an influx of migrants they weren't prepared to handle. But why are they blaming the governor of Texas.

Much of the U.S. could see rain in the coming days. CNN's Pedram Javaheri has your forecast.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The Eastern U.S. recently hit with very extreme temperatures, also a lot of thunderstorms. The energy now shifting back toward the West. The monsoonal moisture in full effect here and above average conditions for wet weather in store. We'll touch on this in detail coming up in a few minutes.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) FOSTER: Driving through standing water is never recommended and one

woman is lucky she made it out alive. A broken water main had flooded the street in Belleville, New Jersey. Other vehicles had passed through safely. But as she tried to drive across the pavement suddenly gave way. Despite being completely submerged she managed to kick the door open and climb to safety.

And a nearly identical situation in El Paso, Texas also caused by a broken water pipe. Bystanders and rescue crews quickly pulled the driver out of the back window just moments before the car fell completely into the hole. Look at that.

Now, stormy weather played havoc with travel on Wednesday especially around the nation's capital. The roads were treacherous and it triggered hours long delays at Washington's three major airports well into the evening hours.

And this brush fire in California created what appears to be a "smokenado." That a whirlwind of smoke rising from the fire. The Sam Fire in Gorman is now 60 percent contained and no injuries and no damage to homes have been reported.

CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has the very latest forecast for you.

JAVAHERI: Good morning, Max. Across the Southwest that is the big weather story here over the next couple of days. The monsoonal moisture has been in full effect across this region producing for some very beneficial rainfall. And over the next couple weeks still could see additional rainfall across an area that could really use it. Flood alerts have been prompted across some of these areas. Las Vegas included here for some potential flooding from these thunderstorms that are forecast in this area. And again, it's kept the temperatures slightly cooler here for this time of year and set to continue here for the next couple days.

Now notice the moisture is still beneficial in reaching still far to the north where the McKinney fire in Northern California quickly becoming contained and also very little expansion of the fire as well. So not something that you see very often this time of year where fire weather is inhibited by some beneficial rainfall, but that has been the case in parts of the West.

Now around the East, the summer variety storms popping up in the afternoon mainly around the Delamere region, the Carolinas, portions of Georgia as well. But notice what happens here in the next couple of days.


Much cooler weather across the Northeastern United States. Temperatures that have been into the 90s quickly giving way to the 80s. Even the 70s in store across Boston. Keep in mind with 96 degrees here just a couple days ago, and long range forecast kind of brings the disparity of below average temperatures across the Eastern U.S. While above average temperatures are expected to return across the Western U.S.

Now notice the Atlantic, very quiet conditions, a tropical system that had a 40 percent chance earlier in the week has been inhibited quite a bit down to 10 percent here. Also watching an area just east of this region potentially for strong storms to develop. But right now, generally quiet conditions. 90 degrees in Kansas City, 97 across Denver, highs around Washington, D.C. right around 86 degrees -- Max.

FOSTER: Thank you to Pedram.

Relief from the intense heat and drought is not expected anytime soon. In Spain, a major reservoir has almost completely dried up. A medieval bridge that's been underwater for decades is now fully exposed. Officials are concerned what this will mean for the region's water supply. And ship track along the Rhine River is already struggling to navigate waterways because the water is getting just too shallow.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz joins us from here in London. And this is one of the worst droughts in centuries in Europe I was reading, Salma.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, Max. And we are here in London under an amber warning, so that the is the second highest warning because of the concerns about the heat in the coming days. That warning in place for the next four days. Authorities thinking the temperatures will go into the mid-30s Celsius, that's the mid-90s Fahrenheit for Americans like myself.

But it's not about the temperatures, right, because we saw more extreme temperatures last month, last July. It's about the drought conditions that you've just mentioned. Yes, in England the driest July since 1935. In France the driest since 1959. So, these are really concerning figures for authorities not seeing rainfall here in weeks essentially in parts of England.

And what that means is in addition to the drought conditions which of course mean for agricultural, for industry, that that is a major concern. It also means that there is a likelihood, an increased likelihood of wildfires. So again, remember last July when we had the record-breaking temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius, what the result of that was, was these extreme fires that were triggered quite easily by air and land. The London Fire Brigade said that they had their busiest day since World War II last month again because of the arid conditions. And we're already seeing that take place now.

In France, the southwest of the country, 20,000 hectares there were ablaze. 6,000 people had to be evacuated from their homes. Emergency services trying to stop that fire. And there's fears of course in the coming days with the rising temperatures that we could see more of that across Europe and the U.K.

And again, these are cities -- although these temperatures are not extreme -- these are cities simply not built for the heat. People's homes are built to keep heat in, not let it out, that means even when there are stay-at-home orders, people do struggle to be at home because of a lack of air conditioning of course, that means emergency services are getting more calls. And then of course you have transport across European countries that again is not equipped for this heat.

But when we look at the climate crisis, Max, this is the new reality and cities are having to deal with this very difficult situation in which their infrastructure is simply not built for an increasingly warm summer -- Max.

FOSTER: Salma, thank you. Stay cool.

Now, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is defending his decision to bus asylum seekers to sanctuary cities saying that they were going willingly. Three buses with approximately 100 migrants arrived in New York City on Wednesday from Texas. And that influx is putting pressure on cities such as New York that weren't prepared for the massive numbers. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has more.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN IMMIGRATION REPORTER (voice-over): This is the scene in Washington D.C. as migrants arrive to the city from the U.S.- Mexico border. Republican governors Greg Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona, both fierce critics of Biden's immigration policies began sending migrants to the nation's capital earlier this year, as an affront to the administration. Now, Abbott is also sending them to New York City.

ERIC ADAM, MAYOR (D-NY): It's just a mean and cruel thing that he's doing.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Migrants are placed on buses without plans for what happens when they arrive in these cities. It's led to a difficult humanitarian situation on the ground that's largely being addressed by shelters and nonprofit groups. Tatiana Laborde is the managing director of SAMU First Response, an international organization with offices in Washington D.C. The group has been trying to shore up resources to keep up with the pace of arrivals.

TATIANA LABORDE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SAMU FIRST RESPONSE: We don't have the capacity to meet every bus. But we try to at least a half or more. We feed them, we give them a warm meal.


We give them a hygiene kit. And we give them guidance on how to get to their next destination. We have shelter for up to 50 people. We prioritize women with children. And then we're able to do tickets for a percentage of them.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Migrants on the buses have already been processed and are released in the United States while they go through their immigration proceedings. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has called in additional resources, including she hoped the deployment of the National Guard.

MURIEL BOWSER, WASHINGTON DC MAYOR: We have a growing humanitarian crisis that we expect that the federal government expects is going to only worsen. ALVAREZ (voice-over): But the Pentagon declined that request, arguing it would negatively impact the readiness of the Guard.

The day's long journey originates from different points along the U.S.-Mexico border. Thirty seven buses have been sent to Washington D.C. from Arizona, carrying nearly 1,400 passengers and more than 100 buses have arrived to Washington D.C. from Texas. Abbott just began sending migrants to New York City last Friday.

ALVAREZ: Is the city under strain?


ALVAREZ (voice-over): D.C. council member Brianne Nadeau says the district has assisted immigrants for years. But Texas and Arizona have overwhelmed the system.

NADEAU: Truly this is a federal issue that's being played out through political gamesmanship by Republican governors on the Border States.

ALVAREZ (voice-over): Abbott maintains his actions are in response to the administration's poor handling of the border. Adams has condemned the Texas governor's actions and recently issued an emergency declaration to procure shelter and other services.

ADAMS: I don't think anything being is more anti-American than shipping people on a bus 45-hour trip without any of the basic needs that they have a direction or coordination.


FOSTER: Well, the White House is responding to Governor Abbott's handling of the migration crisis saying: As we have done many times in response to Governor Abbott's repeated attempts to create chaos and confusion at the border, we'll work to manage the consequences of this latest political charade too. Including by continuing to support New York City and Washington, D.C. through FEMA grant funding and more as we do in other locations.

Now still to come, U.S. officials announce charges over an alleged assassination plot targeting two members of the Trump administration.

Plus, the military drills are finally over, but China's push for reunification is not going over well in Taiwan. We're live in Taipei.